For McCarthy it was onwards to Edinburgh, via a quick stop over on Friday night in Warrington for the inaugural Birchwood Brook 5k, the second in the North Cheshire 5K series. A northern debut for the MCKEP vest and an opportunity to damage all the recovery that had been achieved ahead of Sunday.
Arriving with plenty of time to spare, McCarthy had a chance to have a nosey around and spot anyone who would be quicker than him, thus making it pointless entering. With no sign of the ‘proper runner’ that won the first race in under fifteen minutes, and no sign of any other lads who appear at the Cheshire Counties, a resounding victory was on the cards by 7:28pm, barring a Simkiss-esque last minute turn up from someone half decent.
An opening mile of 5:05 opened up 200 metres on the rest of the field and the race was all but over, foot off the gas for the final two miles in 5:31 and 5:28 brought McCarthy home through the final muddy bog in 16:40. Second claim member, Tony McCarthy, also won his age category coming home in 19:12 and 12th overall. A good start to the weekend for the Project.
Images Courtesy: http://www.btphoto.co.uk/
An early start on Saturday saw McCarthy on the 4th train of the day up to Edinburgh for a spot of sightseeing and the inevitable temptation of a nice relaxing day spent in and out of a pub or two. Temptation was too much and risking it all, McCarthy enjoyed his day, conscious that running isn’t actually that important and it’s quite nice having a life, plus he’s never actually going to achieve anything with his running career, in the grand scheme of things…..
Race morning arrived and the much feared wind and rain from the last few days had subsided slightly. It was raining but the wind wasn’t as bad as forecasted and an 8am start ensured the race would be done ahead of the predicted poor weather later in the day, which would catch the 10am Marathon start and ruin their day. Waking up at 5am to eat, McCarthy realised it was probably too early given that the start line was 50 yards away from the hotel, so he went back to bed for an hour. Waking up at 6:10 for a coffee, McCarthy realised it was probably still too early given that start line was 50 yards away from the hotel, so he went back to bed for 30 minutes. Waking up at 6:45, McCarthy was knackered due to a poor sleep and having set his alarm ridiculously early.
After a 15 minute warm up the baggage was dropped off, unlike in London, and McCarthy went back to the hotel to shelter from the cold, given that it was still far too early. Finally, 7:45am, time to leave at last and trot over to the start line and wait in the rain. Looking around there wasn’t anyone recognisable but given that he was in a different country and hundreds of miles from home, this probably didn’t mean the same as it did just two days ago in Birchwood and the likelihood was that there was someone here quicker…although it did cross his mind.
As the race went off, two lads shot off and opened up ten metres or so from the gun, American Thomas Porter, and Italian Franciso Urbano Sales, was it too early to ‘discount’ him from the race, what could he ‘offer’…..McCarthy joined a chase group with Pat Gie of Poland and Bryan Mackie of Scotland, an international field if ever there was one. International relations did deteriorate quite rapidly when, offended by McCarthy taking the racing line and the shortest route to cut every corner possible, Mackie muttered something to McCarthy about staying on the course. Keen to harness the ever growing relationship since the Scottish Independence vote, McCarthy duly told him to ‘F*ck off’, so he did, opening up a gap so big that McCarthy didn’t see him again until the finish…
Prior to this break, the chase group passed through 3 miles in 5:11, 5:14 and 5:18, before McCarthy found himself being dropped and on his own. In a potential ‘wheels come off moment’, he was then passed at around 5 miles by Andy Burn, who would go on to put in a really strong run to pull through to second. Now in sixth place and on the sea front into the light headwind the 10k split came up in 33:27. McCarthy calculated he was bang on PB pace for a 70:30, but given the fact this was inevitably going to be a slower second half anything around 71:00 would be seen as a success, as it probably would have been seen prior to the race.
The second half of the race was essentially a time trial with no-one around to work with or against, it was just pure concentration on trying to maintain the pace as close to 5:25 as possible, pushing and holding on. Miles 9-13 all came in around the target in 5:24, 5:27, 5:29, 5:31 and 5:25, this was actually turning into a strong run with no sign of fading away, it would be a shame that the time that was lost in miles 5,6 and 7 which averaged 5:32, would be the costly ones.
A final turn into Musselburgh Race Course and the line was in sight, 71:20 and sixth place….